Thomas Tsalapatis

Greece

Thomas Tsalapatis was born in Athens in 1984. He studied history and theory of theater at the University of Athens. His first collection “Daybreak is Slaughter, Mr. Krak” (Ekati editions, 2011), received the National Prize for best emerging author (2012) and has been translated in Italian by Viviana Maglio Sebastio and published by Editore XY.IT (2018). His second collection “Alba” (Ekati editions, 2015) was published in 2015 and has been translated in French by Nicole Chaperon in 2017 and published by Desmos editions. In 2016 he wrote Encore, a play which was staged in Attis Theater in Athens, directed by Theodoros Terzopoulos. The text and the poems of the performance were published in 2017 by Mov Skiouros editions under the name “Pnigmos”. In 2018 his third poetry collection “Geographies of the Fritzs and the Langs” (Ekati edditions) was published. 

In 2018 he won the first prize for poetry “Premio InediTO-Colline di Torino” for the poetical section "Περιστατικά" (Peristatica) Circostanze. In the same year his play “Monica Vitti remembers no more” was staged in Maison de la Poésie in Paris as a stage reading, directed by Laurence Campet and translated by Clio Mavroeidakos. The play was staged in Athens in 2019 and published the same year by Mov Skiouros editions.

He has participated in many festivals and literary events in Greece and in Europe including: Marché de la Poésie in Paris, Parole Spalancate in Genoa, Turin International book fair, Mediterranea 18 Young Artists Biennale and nominated and participated at 2nd Young Writers' Festival organized by Hellenic Foundation for Culture during the Thessaloniki book fair.

Since 2008, he has been writing articles, for newspapers, magazines and web magazines. He is currently a columnist for the Saturday edition of «Εφημερίδα των Συντακτών» (Efimerida ton Syntacton) and for the Sunday edition of «Εποχή» (Epohi)

Several of his poems have been translated into English, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and have been included in more than 8 anthologies. He has translated and published poems of W.B. Yeats and W.H. Auden. His writings can be found at Groucho Marxism: http://tsalapatis.blogspot.com.


Thomas Tsalapatis’s poetry has been described as an attempt to construct a personal modern poetical mythology, with sometimes non-poetical elements (borrowing from theatre, stand-up comedy, graphic novels, journalism or cinema) based in the absurd, slapstick of words, and expressed mainly in a prose poetry form, in dialogue with the rich Greek poetry tradition. 

Reviewing the anthology “Austerity Measures: The New Greek poetry” (Penguin 2016), edited by Karen Van Dyke, Kate Kellaway wrote on Guardian:

‘’The poems tend to the confrontational and the first to accost me was Thomas Tsalapatis’s The Box. Each poet is illuminatingly introduced by Van Dyck and Tsalapatis is described as having a “restless take on the crisis”. He possesses, he says, a “small box” inside which “they’re always slaughtering someone”. It is a cumulative performance about a burden of knowledge. He stirs up unease about denial, about the slamming on of lids. He wraps his box in paper and ribbon – tempting to think of it as a tiny coffin – and passes it on: “Sitting in my mailbox, it’s waiting to reach my friend. The friend I keep just to give presents to.”

He passes the box to us too – appropriately in a collection that is all about reach.’’

The poem was included in Tsalapatis’s first poetry collection “Daybreak is Slaughter, Mr. Krak” (2011) which won the Greek state prize for best emerging author and has been described by the leading Greek poet Giorgos Markopoulos as “a collection of poems of undoubtedly high quality, using verses of remarkable punctuality, rare originality and inventive fantasy”. Italian poet Davide Rondoni in the review of the Italian translation of the book described it as a” bittersweet ode to freedom”, while Enzo Di Brango, for the Italian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique in the newspaper “il Manifesto” stated that “The fresh, surreal and rebellious nature of the poems grips the reader and does not allow him to stay passive. At the same time it urges him to broaden his own reality through the recovery of subconscious experiences against the banalities of conventional ethics”. 

His second collection “Alba” was published in Greece in 2015 and in France in 2017 and insists on the same poetical language with more lyrical elements. The book describes a fabled city, which shares the same name with a woman. Here, “the uphill roads refuse to tilt downward. Here all routes are 10 minutes long, all routes, regardless of the distance, the means of transportation, the rhythm of the gate, the speed of the vehicle. Always ten minutes long. Here, in the first neighborhood of Alba.” And “Nightfall is the only constant/ But only halfway through/ So,/ The shorter you are/ The longer you daybreak”. Divided in 7 parts the book describes seven boroughs of the city, seven appearances of the woman and seven days inside the city (actually six because “this city has no Thursdays”). The poet  Katerina Iliopoulou in her review of the book for the newspaper “Epohi” stated that: “The audacious crossing through the city of Alba is another way to describe the adventure of poetry”, while Christos Aggelakos wrote in the literary journal “Biblioteque” that “with Tsalapatis’s ‘Alba’ the new generation of Greek poets shows us its teeth”. 

The “Trilogy of the stranger” concludes with Tsalapatis’s third poetry collection “Geographies of the Fritzs and the Langs” (2018). Here we follow two strange races as they travel downwards. We learn their characteristics, watch them as they turn into objects, being informed about their slaughter and watch them as they leave through the sea. More violent and more cryptic than the previous ones, this book describes a modern day dystopia through two groups of strange persons becoming victims of a hostile world. Poet and critic Petros Golitsis wrote in his review of the book in “Efimerida ton Syntakton”: “Besides the compact and impressive voice that makes the poetical narrations stand as one, what makes the book distinct is the strange dramatization of the events and the distance that the fictional narrator keeps from the actions and the characters.”